From October 9th to the 18th I was on an excursion up North. It was the longest time Heather and I have been apart since the pandemic. In fact the longest for more time than we could remember, since it was only at the start of 2021 that we took over full time ownership of and responsibility for Tadpole. Tadpole's the cat and, until we formalised our adoption of him from Annie & Tony next door, we'd never actually fed him. Which meant we could both go away, and stay away, for as long as we liked, eg a week in Venice or a month in Edinburgh.
Since then we've managed three nights away, the last time being Southend, on the return from which we found Tadpole had been sick. His timers can keep releasing vaguely fresh wet found for just 48 hours, after which he relies on the dry food. And too much dry food equals cat vom, at least in our experience.
None of which should detract from these marvellous comics by kids, which is the sole purpose of this blog. I was away for 9 days, and these are some of the results. (The others being a 1980s Pop Star Colouring Book, which I was drawing and writing in my evenings and free days, and a very enjoyable weekend selling graphic novels and socialising at the Lakes Comic Festival).
After I'd performed with the Socks at the Frog & Bucket in Manchester (gonged off again after less than three minutes, least said soonest mended) on the Monday night, and stayed over near the motorway at Preston, on Tuesday I taught the good children of Nether Kellet in Lancashire. Pretty well all of them, the years 3, 4, 5, and 6 adding up to just 60 kids. One group in the morning, one in the afternoon, as per usual.
It's pronounced Kworma, but spelled Quernmore. And was another school where I'll have to wait a few years until they've grown a whole new school's worth before they can have me back, the whole four eligible year groups fitting, once more, into two neatly sized classes. These were the fruits of Wednesday's classes.
The Thursday of my week in the North West, en route to the Lakes, was supposed to be spent at Sedbergh School. But, though I thought I'd confirmed the date, I clearly hadn't. And when I contacted the school the day before, it turned out I'd never made it into their diary so the gig was off. So, in their stead, here are two comics produced on Saturday Oct 7th which have a story of their own to tell.
I was in the North East in this case, well in Hull, and had planned my tour with unexpected efficiency. Friday night (6th) saw the Socks performing at the Ropewalk in Barton On Humber, and the next day I would do a class at Chesterfield Museum, which is on a direct line home to Clevedon. I'd done a Zoom class earlier in the year with Chesterfield and was looking forward to doing one there in person. However, in the week running up, I learned that they couldn't get access to a room at the museum, so could I do the class on Zoom?
Normally that would be great, and easy. But I was in Barton on Humber doing a gig on Friday night, so to get home to do a Zoom gig from home would mean doing the 4 and a half hour drive on Friday night from 10pm, or at some ungodly hour of the morning or - it was obviously a non starter. So I aksed the lovely Liz at Barton On Humber Ropewalk if I could do the Zoom class from their venue. And, while I was at it, would they like a real life class there too?
They would, and they did. And so it was that, from 10 till 12, I taught 26 people on Zoom, paid for by Chesterfield Museum, from a conference room in Barton, then from 1.30 till 3.30 taught 16 people in person, the latter group getting a printed comic to take away with them, which sadly the Chesterfieldonians (who came, as it happens, from all round the country) didn't get. Everyone was happy, and I then did the drive home from Barton, getting home in time for Strictly. Hev came me for this mini trip up North, I then left her there for the following nine days.
The final leg of my 9 days in the North West, en route home from The Lakes, was at Southgate School in Huddersfield. A special needs school, my two schools had a deal of variety about them. You might see that these front covers lack the little doodles that I invite the kids to do while they're waiting to be drawn (these also don't happen on online-produced comics either). The pupils, who were aged 11 to 15 but had learning abilities mostly a lot younger, were better served by me coming to them. They were great to work with, and all the more rewarding when I feel I've really made a connection and helped them achieve something in their work. The afternoon group were smaller and mostly even more challenged, yet somehow they came up with the more grown up sounding title. You can never tell what kids will come up with.
The celebrities these 8 groups chose to appear in my demonstration strips were Ariana Grande, Simon Cowell (twice), Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish, The Queen, Ronaldo, and Freddie Mercury.